Guide to Guilt Free Fashion Shopping
By: Dana Brown for The Vegan Outfit
With more and more fashion brands we love coming under fire for unsafe manufacturing practices or harming the environment; it is difficult to shop for clothes without feeling guilty about giving your money to these reckless corporations. Living a more sustainable lifestyle does not mean having to compromise on quality, style, or tailoring. Not only will you look great in sustainable clothes, but you’ll also feel great too. But what does sustainability actually mean?
Broken down sustainability essentially means that no harm is caused by whatever activity a company or an individual does. Although not everyone in the fashion industry agrees, we believe no harm to animals is an equally important part of sustainability. In the fashion world, being a sustainable brand entails sourcing fabrics, sending those fabrics to the production facilities, producing the clothes, and distributing the clothes without causing harm to people or the environment. Sadly the majority of companies don’t practice sustainability, they produce incredible amounts of waste that damage the environment or outsource their production to sweatshops. As much as we try to look the other way when the brands we love have questionable production choices, it is crucial that we stop shopping with them; otherwise, we’re allowing them to continue to cause harm.
Luckily we are living in 2019, so worldwide there are companies adopting sustainable methods, and there is no shortage of gorgeous sustainable clothing for everything from running shorts to dresses for your friend’s wedding. Start your journey to living a more sustainable lifestyle with the four following tips:
- One of the easiest ways to develop more sustainable shopping habits is to quit shopping at fast-fashion brands. They are irresistible because they have cute clothes, new arrivals every week, and prices so low you could buy out the store for less than a few drinks at a bar. Although it seems daunting and as difficult to give up as chocolate during Lent, you’ll thank yourself later for not wasting your money on poor quality clothes that fall apart after one wash. If you love the price tags at fast-fashion brands, consider checking out your local charity or vintage shops instead. The items are pre-loved but the majority of them are high quality, and you can find beautiful pieces like liquid-smooth satin dresses or vintage jeans that hug you in all the right place.
- If you still prefer buying new clothes versus pre-loved items, give more thought to what kind of fabrics you are buying, not all are great for the environment. The main two categories are synthetic (nylon, polyester, rayon) and natural (cotton, bamboo, linen) but there is a third category called semi-synthetic which is a mix of the two. When you wash your clothes, that wastewater flows back into the ocean, bringing along the microfibers that have broken off of the synthetic fabrics. Microfibers are destructive to wildlife in the sea. Simply stated is that the small fish and creatures eat them, the larger fish eat the smaller fish, then we eat those fish, so we end up consuming the synthetic microfibers. There is going to be 22 million tonnes of these synthetic microfibers washed into the ocean between 2015 and 2050 according to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation. So before you buy, check the tag to make sure the fibers are natural, so when the product is washed or recycled the fibers can naturally decompose without harming the environment.
- Buy less, but choose better quality pieces. Should your bank account allow you to, choose to purchase investment pieces that you will love and wear for years. Luxury brands like Stella McCartney are famous for their dedication to sustainability, they produce incredible quality fashion with classic and trendy designs. By having a closet full of clothing you have taken the time to choose, or saved up to buy, you will love your wardrobe! Slowing down your fashion consumption is a good way to help the environment whilst developing your personal style. We can all agree that having an iconic look is better than following all the trends that pass through the fast-fashion shops anyways.
- When you catch the Marie Kondo bug and decide to cleanse your closet of all the clothes that no longer bring you joy remember to do so in a green way. As long as the clothes are in relatively in good shape you can donate them to a local or national non-profit so someone else can love them. You could also send the clothes to a textile recycling company in your country, so the materials won’t go to waste. A fun idea is to have a night where you invite all your friends to come over, tell them to bring all the clothes they want to give away, and have a clothing exchange. If you truly do not want a piece of clothing anymore, do not just chuck it in the trash to be thrown into a landfill, try to give it a new home or at least recycle it.
- The final piece of advice we can give you is to always check the website of the brand you want to buy from, check out their sustainability policy. If they don’t share any information about their production or their strategies to help reduce their impact on the environment, they are likely not sustainable or a brand you should buy from. A fantastic example of what a sustainable company should be like is ARMEDANGELS, a German company who are leading innovative ways to detoxify the process of making jeans. They are transparent about the safe working conditions in their factories, their packaging is also made from grass to reduce their CO2 emissions. ARMEDANGELS partners with non-profit organizations like Fair Trade, Fair Wear Foundation, and the Global Organic Textile Standard to ensure everything is ethically sourced and organic. Not all fashion companies are going to be as in-depth as ARMEDANGELS in their communications, but if there is no information available take that as a red flag.